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Could This Winter's Extreme Weather Spark Changes to Energy Demand?

April 1, 2021
Austin, TX

Severe storms in the US this winter have led to anxiety about the reliability, and cost, of electricity supplies.

The impact of the severe weather in Texas in February has been devastating.

The week of February 15th turned out to be the second worst week in the state’s history and saw temperatures plummet to 11 degrees below zero.

For many, it was a frightening experience. When the emergency was at its height, around 4.3 million people were without power.

The state was thrown into chaos. In Houston, the fourth largest city in the US, there were long lines for food, gas, and supplies.

As those hit hardest by the crisis attempt to rebuild their lives, attention in some quarters has now turned to ensuring that such a catastrophe never occurs again.

In addition to the human toll, the financial cost of the big freeze has been astronomical. Electricity prices spiked by an astonishing 10,000 percent, and many consumers received utility bills that were simply shocking, including one consumer who showed a bill saying he owed over $5,000 to heat his 1,300 square foot home during the crisis.


Texans Without Power

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Is There a Solar Solution to Energy Problems?

Consumer horror stories such as this are likely to spur people to reassess how they source their energy.

And going by previous experience, an extreme event such as that which hit Texas will mean many in the state will now give serious consideration to the installation of solar panels as an alternative energy source.

The case of the California wildfires in 2019 shows how losing power can push consumers to search for alternative sources of electricity. In an effort to limit the outbreak of new fires, California utility company PG&E cut electricity to millions of people to prevent transmission lines from triggering new blazes.

The result? Online searches for installers of solar and storage systems in PG&E’s territory increased a massive 40 percent above the national baseline during the first quarter of 2019, according to EnergySage.

Indeed, solar will account for the largest share of new electricity generating capacity beginning commercial operation in 2021. The US Energy Information Administration has said that developers and power plant owners plan for 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of such capacity starting commercial operation this year. Of that, solar will account for 39 percent.

This effectively means that 15.4GW of solar capacity will be added to the grid in 2021, a new record. This total will surpass last year’s increase, which amounted to almost 12GW.

Thus new solar capacity will outstrip new wind capacity in the US in 2021 – with wind set to contribute 12.2GW.

Recruiting Qualified Workers Remains a Consistent Challenge

With solar leading the way in terms of new US electricity generating capacity, there will be an onus on solar companies to upscale their workforces both this year and in the years to come.

Indeed, consultants Wood Mackenzie have predicted that, by 2035, the US solar industry could be up to ten times the size it is now.

So, the challenge for solar companies will be to quickly upscale their workforces in the coming years.

This is often easier said than done. The Solar Foundation’s ‘National Solar Job Census’ has highlighted the difficulties solar firms have when trying to hire qualified employees. For example, a survey conducted by the foundation revealed that 76 percent of solar operations and maintenance firms found it “difficult” or “very difficult” to hire qualified workers.

Helping solar industry companies to quickly upscale their workforce is one of Workrise’s areas of expertise. If this is a challenge your company is facing, working with a specialized hiring agency will enable you to grow your workforce by having access to a large nationwide talent pool.

A high-quality hiring agency will also help you provide training for your workers. This will give your business the opportunity to equip workers with foundational skills that can be easily transferred to other projects.

Talk to us: Workrise can help with staffing, technology, training, and professional services – so you can get back to focusing on what you do best. Visit our website at workrise.dev.

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